Hedda Gabler Brief Summary
Ibsen has successfully portrayed Hedda as a user and manipulator. This comes out expressly enact I of the play. The play starts with the arrival of Hedda and Tesman from their six-month honeymoon. This, as we come to understand later, is despite the fact that Tesman is still being supported by his aunt Julle. Yet in all Tesman’s sacrifices to please her, she seems to care little about appreciating him. She callously reveals to judge Brack that she was annoyed when George talked about his old slippers while on their honeymoon. She does not spare George despite his financial constraints. He, at one point, tells her they have to cut on the expenses. She comes out as one hard on Tesman when he suggests that they should give away the old piano. She sternly insists that they should buy a new one while keeping the old one. Clearly, the two are not a love-match (Ibsen and Jon and Anne-Charlotte 6).
The Tesmans are happy and close to each other. They talk freely even with their workers. Ms. Tesman opens to her once maidservant Berta “Heaven knows it was a wrench to me to part with you”. The family tries to welcome Hedda but to minimal success. Hedda resents their attempts and is quite evident he detests their mannerisms. When aunt Julle arrives, she moves to hug the new member of the family, but she is not met with similar warmth. Hedda extends her hand in a gesture that cannot be attributed to her formal mannerisms as much as it can to her resentment of such open expressions of affection (Ibsen et. al. 7). She formally addresses George’s aunt as “Miss Tesman” as if to indicate how their open and informal mannerisms do not impress her. As if that is not enough, she is quite mean when she comments about George’s aunt’s gesture of placing her hat on the chair. She finds this a bad habit, and as she describes it, ‘No one does that sort of thing”.
George talks to her to stop being mean to Julle, but it is evident she is not about to heed his advice. Julle reads Hedda’s resentful feelings but remains calm. She even promises to be visited Hedda daily. This could have been to taunt her more rather than to win her over. When Julle calls one early morning, Hedda is angry to be woken up that early. She expresses it coldly, but Julle is calm about it (Ibsen et. al. 9). Gorge differs from her when she thinks that it is annoying to be called in such an early morning. For him, his aunt’s gesture in calling them is purely out of care.
Hedda receives Thea seemingly warmly. We get to know that the two had a difficult time growing up together. It is revealed that Hedda had treated Thea brutally when she even attempted to pull her hair off. This time though, she pretends to be Thea’s old good friend. She is manipulative in the way she convinces Tesman to leave and tricks Thea into confiding in her about her involvement with Lovborg. We come to understand that Lovborg and Hedda had had an affair before, and Lovborg used to be a drunkard (Ibsen et. al. 10). As Hedda comes to gather from Thea, Lovborg has since stopped drinking and had gone back to writing.
It can be clearly seen how disappointed with her marriage to George Tesman. She hardly uses Tesman’s name and tries to use her father’s name jealously. This sort of shows how she does not cherish her marriage and entry into the Tesmans’ family. Her disappointment with her marriage prevails when she later tells it to judge Brack openly. She spends most of the time fancying and playing with her father’s guns as she finds nothing else interesting with which to pass her time. She envies Mrs. Elvsted to know she is engaged with her Lovborg, and she still has her husband. She says to Thea, “But what do you think people will say, Thea?”Were it not for Hedda’s fear of public scandal, one would not doubt that she would also have gone for an extra-marital affair too (Ibsen and Jon and Anne-Charlotte 13).
Works Cited Ibsen, Henrik, Jon R. Baitz, and Anne-Charlotte H. Harvey. Hedda Gabler. New York: Grove Press, 2000. Print.